It is the most disturbing crime that you will ever read about when young children, only six years old and above, are taken to a room in a rich suburb or a squatters shack in a slum and made to perform sex acts before a camera linked to the Internet.
This is massive criminal business growing by the day. Despite the very slow Internet connections throughout the Philippines in general, the cyber-sex operators and the sex dens that show child pornography seem to have the fastest broadband speed of all. Inside deals with Internet service providers (ISP’s) might account for this but one thing is certain- it is wrecking havoc on the lives of thousands of small children.
During these sessions young boys and girls are coerced or lured into doing sex acts for foreigners who view them from abroad for payment. They are traumatized and disturbed for life.
The case of Australian Peter Scully, on trial in Cagayan de Oro City for allegedly sexually assaulting children on camera and killing one while he videotaped it and sold it over the Internet, is perhaps the most heinous case. Thanks to the Dutch police and the Australian Federal Police working with the Philippine federal police (NBI) he was eventually caught and the remains of the murdered child were dug up and his videos were taken as evidence. But he is one of many who are attracted to the innocent and vulnerable Filipino children.
A charity protecting children worldwide, Terres de Hommes, helped police identify and arrest pedophiles who are using the Internet to abuse children and share shocking images of children being abused. The international demand is great. A few years ago the charity posted online a video of a computer generated ten-year old child named “Sweetie,” who looked very realistic child and as many as twenty thousand pedophiles worldwide tried to contact her and many made sexual overtones to her thinking she was real.
Philippine laws are plenty to combat these crimes against children. Government officials have to struggle to catch the criminals and child traffickers who are allegedly smarter in hiding their activities. Under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, officially recorded as Republic Act No. 10175, the courts are quick to convict journalists, writers and commentators when accused of libel under section five which after controversy has been declared constitutional on February 18, 2014. The libel provisions of this act is now legal and not a restriction of free speech. However notorious cases of cyber-crime, child pornography, child abuse and human trafficking go unpunished.
The cyber-crimes against children include images that are uploaded over the Internet in the Philippines and distributed worldwide. They are used to train young children to imitate the acts before a web cam. Victims saved by the social workers of the Preda Foundation tell of how they were recruited, given money, tricked into debt and then coerced to do it. They tell us how widespread it is among youth and many view the sex act on smart phones.
Other youth make their own sex acts of themselves and schoolmates and illegally share it to others. Then people are lured online to believe that they have a girlfriend or boyfriend in a chat room and are persuaded to show themselves naked in sexual poses. Then they are blackmailed to pay money to the extortionist not to post the images online. Some youth have committed suicide as a result.
While the Philippine 2009 Anti-Child Pornography Act forbids all of these criminal acts it is not implemented by the Internet server providers in the Philippines. The law specifically states that filters and blocking software must be deployed to prevent child pornography web site from being accessed and for any indecent images of children to be transmitted. But it is done all the time.
The National Bureau of Investigation has special powers under the Anti-Cybercrime Act to get Internet data from the Internet service providers so they can confirm that there is illegal content passing through the server provider’s computers yet it goes on unimpeded. Non-government child protection organizations like the Preda Foundation have challenged the Internet server providers to confirm they are complying with the law without result.
The telephone and Internet companies are violating the law if they do not have these filters in place as demanded by the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 otherwise known as RA 9775.
In addition to the anti-child pornography law, they are also allegedly violating with impunity the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995 or RA 7925 and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, officially recorded as Republic Act No. 10175.
However impunity for crimes is common in the Philippines especially for the rich and wealthy and the well-connected. Money passes hands and anything is possible. When criminals despite strong evidence can walk free then we can see the serious problem with the system.
The corruption within law enforcement and a weak political will encourages the international pedophiles and child pornographers to come here and abuse the children and make money from it. It’s a billion dollar business worldwide. An estimated 100,000 children are lured or forced into sex acts on web cams and child pornography prostitution.
Members of the public can report child abuse and human trafficking crimes to the Preda Foundation Hotline +63 917 532 4453 for immediate action. Silence about child crime is to allow and even approve it.
Rev. Shay Cullen is a co-founder of PREDA.org - a nonprofit dedicated to the defense of children.
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